After a semi-successful first week of reviewing the Acceptable Use Policy, it was now time to move onto the increasingly important topic of Internet Safety. In catching the news, reading newspapers, and admittedly watching a few too many Lifetime movies, I can honestly say that my Internet Safety lessons for 2nd thru 4th grade were pretty enthralling.
All of the lessons started in the same fashion...discussing the topic of privacy, and bringing attention to the difference between private and public information on the Internet. To complete this lesson, I used Common Sense Media, which provided a great source for the essential message of the lesson. However, one thing that I've learned as an inner-city school teacher, is that it's important to hone in on the message of the lesson in a way that truly hits home.
For the first part of the lesson, we discussed things and places in our lives where we expected privacy. One that was surprisingly rarely brought up was the idea of privacy in a bathroom or a bathroom stall. The main places and things that were shared included: bedrooms, cabinet crawl spaces in the kitchen, closets, diaries and notebooks. Next, I introduced an overexaggerated scenario, requiring the girls (I work at an all-girls school) to envision themselves having a crush on a boy, writing about him in their diary and then losing the diary in a public place. All of the girls, were definitely involved in this aspect of the lesson. They were like, "OMG, Ted is going to find out about the crush!!!". It was entertaining. I completed this part of the lesson by reminding the girls that posting personal information on the Internet is like going to a busy train station, and saying, "My name is Jane Doe. I live at 123 S. Main St. My parents get home at 5 p.m., I get out of school at 3 p.m......". I concluded this phase of the lesson by stating that, "One should not post information online that they wouldn't share with complete strangers at a busy train station". Needless to say, they got the point.
The next phase of the lesson involved reading an information sheet that listed and explained the different types of private information. Following this was a discussion on why the items are considered private.
The last part of my lesson was the biggest crowd-pleaser of all. For those of you who may not know, or are not from Atlanta, let me start by giving you a brief rundown of the show "Tyler Perry's House of Payne"(TPHoP). For those of you who are familiar with the show, feel free to skip this paragraph. TPHoP is all about a blended family, living under the same roof. The men in the family are firefighters. There is a young grandmother, sometimes there's a mother, and practically every episode features one of the two kids. The girl, Jazmin, is the youngest. The boy, Malik, is the oldest, ranging from age 10 to 16 or so, depending upon the episode. The show brings to life a lot of true obstacles that are faced within families, particularly blended families.
In Season 2, Episode 20 of TPHoP, titled "And Justice for All", Malik and his friend are at home, chatting online with a "girl" that they think is so cute. Malik's dad leaves the house. His friend leaves, and then comes right back over. The boys decide to invite the "girl" Stephanie over. Shortly thereafter, Stephanie obliges the boys' request. Malik and his friend agree that Stephanie is so hot. They don't even think twice about inviting her over. Stephanie comes over to Malik's house. Not a single adult is home. The two boys are alone. Malik's friend hides. When Malik opens the front door he suddenly realizes that Stephanie is not a girl at all...he is a man. Malik's friend runs to the firehouse to get the uncle and the dad, who both arrive within moments to save the day.
The introduction of this episode was one of dual purposes.
A. It shows an example of what could happen when personal information is shared online.
B. It shows how some TV shows and episodes reflect what happens in the real world.
To close the lesson we talked about how you could safely talk to people online without giving them your real name. When asked, "What would you do if someone online asked you for your name?", one student responded by simply saying "shoe". I said, "Come again". She said, "I would say that my name is shoe, because that way if they search for me online, all they're going to get is a picture of a shoe".
Some comments are simply priceless :)